Heterogeneity in childbirth related fear or anxiety

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Publication Details
Author list: Rondung, Elisabet; Ekdahl, Johanna;Hildingsson, Ingegerd;Sundin, Örjan
Publication year: 2018
ISSN: 0036-5564


Many pregnant women experience fear, worry or anxiety relating to the upcoming childbirth. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate possible subgroups in a sample of 206 pregnant women (mean age 29.4 years), reporting fear of birth in mid-pregnancy. Comparisons were made between nulliparous and parous women. In a series of cluster analyses, validated psychological instruments were used to cluster women based on their psychological profiles. A five-cluster solution was suggested, with the clusters characterized by: overall low symptom load, general high symptom load, medium symptom load with high performance-based self-esteem, blood- and injection phobic anxiety, and specific anxiety symptoms. Nulliparous women were more likely to report clinically relevant levels of blood- and injection phobia (OR = 2.57, 95% CI 1.09–6.01), while parous women more often reported previous negative experiences in health care (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.09–3.39) or previous trauma (OR 2.90, 95% CI 1.58–5.32). The results indicate that women reporting fear of birth are a heterogeneous group. In order to individualize treatment, psychological characteristics may be of greater importance than parity in identifying relevant subgroups.

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